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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Mar 24 2008 1:16pm
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Today I have an interview with Erik Lauer and a tourney report from yesterday's PE. I ran Whiffy Penguin's four color list from Classicquarter.com, changing a couple cards around due to availability (Thanks to Javasci for the lending of two Stifle). I tested it a little, and was ready.  His list, for reference, is at http://www.classicquarter.com/deckview.asp?DecklistID=252  I was +1 Force Spike, -1 Stifle in the maindeck and +1 Threads of Disloyalty, -1 Krosan Grip in the sideboard.

Round one: I'm matched up with kane732, a Classic Quarter member. I know he almost always runs a Sensei-Sensei build. I choose to go first and keep a hand that has
Stifle, a counter or two, and some lands. Seems fine. I am able to drop Nimble Mongoose on turn three, using Force Spike to force it through his Counterspell. Next turn he confirms my suspicions, using Mystical Tutor to fetch Fabricate. I allow that, then Counterspell the Fabricate. Mongoose beats follow, then I add Goyf to my board. He sticks Trinket Mage, and gets a Sensei's Divining Top. I have the Swords to Plowshares to remove the Mage and keep beating in. I keep up the aggressive beats. He drops a Future Sight and I have no counter for it (I have Spell Snare in-hand). I continue to hit him. He Tops into Top number two... I do have a Stifle in my hand though, so I'm not TOO worried yet. He finds a free land to play via Future Sight, and begins Topping, apparently looking for Helm of Awakening.

I Stifle his Top attempt at drawing, leaving him tapped out. I hit him again, giving him two turns to live at the current rate. He has a
Trinket Mage, plays an Island from his Future Sight,

Helm of Awakening

Combo enabler that doesn't need the graveyard.  Hmm... any potential there?
then doesn't like what he sees on top of his library. He has Extract on himself to shuffle, and removes an Island. He doesn't find gas, but I do take note that he grabbed two FoW during this sequence. I attack him down to one life on my turn. He has to go for it or die. He Tops to set up his draw. Then he plays an Island off to top of his library, and pops a Fabricate. I let him go get his Helm of Awakening. I have Spell Snare and FoW in-hand. He tries to cast Helm of Awakening, and I have the hardcasted Force of Will to stop that silliness.He has two mana open, but has been searching for Helm for too long and doesn't have the Counterspell. He FoWs my FoW, and loses his last life as part of the FoW-for-free payment plan.

Game two is pretty easy. I side in three
Pyroblast and remove three STP. There are no interesting plays here. I simply stick my turn two Nimble Mongoose and ride him to victory. Pyroblast was nice here, countering his attempt to Stifle my fetchland on turn two. Pyroblast was probably the MVP this game actually, giving me a safety net as a one mana counter for almost everything relevant aside from his artifacts.

Next round, I'm up against Samwise_GeeGee, a pun on the popular gay character Samwise Gamgee from the movie Lord of the Rings, who bares a slight resemblance to the straight character Samwise Gamgee from the enjoyable but slightly boring Lord of the Rings books by JRR Tolkien. Anyways, replays are up, so I know he's with UGr Thresh. These games are pretty silly. He leads off with a fetchland, getting a
Breeding Pool, and has a Nimble Mongoose, pretty much the best play possible in the mirror. I fetch a land untapped. He has land, Ponder, and attacks. I have a Breeding Pool and I Ponder. He hits me on his turn. I Brainstorm away a land when I break my fetchland on my turn. He tries to Stifle the fetch and I have to FoW it. I then attempt Werebear and he has Spell Snare. My Force Spike wins that battle, but leaves me untapped. I feel like I had to go for it though to have a way to hopefully stop his 'Goose. He attacks and Brainstorms into Lightning Bolt, killing my Werebear. At this point, he is able to ride out his Goose and kill me.

So, bad times, and I can't really add much to my deck to improve my odds. I play first and drop a
Nimble Mongoose, which apparently wins the game, much like playing Flash on turn two. He has Steam Vents and Tormod's Crypt. I guess that's one way to assure you get Threshold and I do not. I hit him up, then drop a fetchland and another Goose, sitting on my Force Spike AND Spell Snare (it's like cheats!). He lets him resolve. He has the EOT Brainstorm, and I crack my land in response so he can't Stifle it. He has a Wooded Foothills and nothing more. My Geese go for the throat, serving for TWO! Another fetch joins my land team, and is cracked again in response to his BS. At this point, he has Goyf. It is a 2/3, but his Crypt COULD pump to a 3/4. I attack into it with both men, holding a Lightning Bolt. He blocks and pops, and I Bolt his dude away. He has another Crypt, but we both do nothing (aside from attacking him) the next eleven turns. We both have full grips. He is at four. I attack him. He takes it. We do this again... he takes it. On his EOT, I Bolt him, we fight a mild counter-war (Counterspell from him, Pyroblast from me) and he concedes.

Nimble Mongoose = Cheating at Magic.

So, I have to win on the draw. I'm not sure this is possible in the mirror unless I don't get my first land Stifled AND he doesn't play a Goose on turn one. He opens with a fetch, getting a Pool, and a Crypt. I had a Steam Vents.  He played one.  My fetchland is played and cracked for a Breeding Pool.  Now, sitting on
Force Spike and a Pyroblast, I try out a Nimble Mongoose.  It resolves!  He lays his own fetch, and a Tarmogoyf.  I'm fine with that, as I have a Swords in-hand.  I untap, play and crack my second fetchland, and Swords his Goyf into oblivion.  I hit him, then Ponder my options.  He has a Flooded Strand that is broken, then Mr. T the Second.  I Spell Snare THAT noise.  He tries a third Goyf.  I pitch a FoW to counter it too.  Before I can untap my mana (with Stifle in my hand), he cracks his Crypt to take away Threshold.  I hit him some more.  We both lay land, and I continue the relentless hammering that is 1/20th of his health.  I Brainstorm, and we continue our trading turns with no action.

I hit him again, then try to stick another Mongoose.  He counters it with FoW, and I let it go, more concerned about protecting the board position than advancing it.  I hit him lower, then try for the
Lightning Bolt finisher with him at three life.  He throws a Bolt back, and I let have a second for his face.  He has a second for MINE, and I let it resolve.  Mine resolves, and I have the mirror won!

The mirror feels silly.  Winning plays include turn one Mongoose, playing more Mongooses than opponents, growing Goys past three toughness (Since many builds run just Red removal), and Stifling a turn one fetchland.

In the third, I'm faced against Flatliner8233.  He wins the roll and will go first.  I'm fine with this when I see a hand with Lightning Bolt, Swords, two
fetchlands, FoW, Stifle, and something else.  I have watched his replays, and know he is some sort of UBW Fish-style deck.  He leads off with a Dark Ritual, and I take a gamble.  If I let it resolve, and he has the stupid Duress, Hymn to Tourach start, I lose.  Otherwise, I feel fine.  Ritual resolves.  He plays Dark Confidant and... nothing.  YAUS!.  I feel like he just gave me the game, although I'm not certain of this.  What if he has a FoW to protect it?  Time to check.  I Swords his man, and he lets it resolve.

He only has a fetch on turn two, down one card due to being on the play and another due to his Dark Ritual play.  I have a land, a Mongoose, and a Spell Snare in hand.  He has a Swamp, and then another Bob.  I SS it.  Mongoose bits him.  I play a
Tarmogoyf.  He plays the best card in his deck against me, Jotun Grunt.  I untap and Swords the Grunt.  He tries to Swords my Goyf, and I FoW that.  I'm left with only a Lightning Bolt in hand.  He Duresses me and I Bolt his face in response.  He has another Grunt to follow up.  Tarmogoyf is a 4/5 for a minute, and attacks past his Grunt.  He keeps his Grunt up, and drops a Hyppie.  I have land.  I Ponder my options, taking Brainstorm.  He attacks with Hypnotic Specter while Keeping his Grunt around a little longer.  I Brainstorm in response to the Hyppie, keeping a Force Spike to discard.  I pass without a play.  His Grunt dies, and I am back on the attack, one card from Threshold.  He blocks my Goose, taking Goyf damage, and I Brainstorm to kill the Specter, then Ponder on my main phase.  He looks at his next card and scoops'em up

We both keep game two, and Flatliner Duresses me off of a Swamp.  He takes Swords over Lightning Bolt and Ponder, leaving two creatures and two lands too.  I draw Brainstorm, and play Hallowed Fountain.  He has a fetch.  I Brainstorm on his EoT.  I Fetch a land and play a Goose.  Then I Ponder my options.  He plays a Godless Shrine and a Bob.  I attack with my Goose.  He takes it, and I play a second.  He reveals a Hyppie to Bob and plays him.  I Brainstorm on EoT again.  I'm one card from Thresh again.  I attack with both Geese.  He blocks one with Bob, and I Bolt his Hyppie, killing both of his men.  I play Werebear and he asks it to try out its' hand as a Werefarmer.  He Dark Rits into Hyppie and follows that with a Tarmogoyf.  I guess he was Green too...  I play my own BCoAT (Best creature of all time).  Hippie hits me, getting FoW, then he Vindicates my BCoAT.  Both of my Mongooses Nimbly attack.  He blocks one with a Goyf, and I Bolt the Goyf, trading men with him.  He attacks with Hyppie again but I'm out of cards.  However, I'm ahead in damage, so he blocks after I continue my beatdown.  I attack then drop a Werebear.  He has nothing.  I attack with him at six, and he chumps the Bear, dropping to three.  He has a Grunt, but nothing else, and I win.

As you can see, this deck is very powerful, and really does have great removal and reach between Bolt and STP.  Now, I want to draw in Round Four, but my opponent, Michel M. is 2-1, and feels like a draw would hurt him.  I'm on the play, and drop Breeding Pool.  He has a fetchland, but I Stifle it.  I have no land on my turn.  He tries a
Gemstone Mine and Duress.  I Force Spike that.  I find a Hallowed Fountain.  He drops an Island, and tries out Bob.  I try out Spell Snare.  I Brainstorm afterwards.  Steam Vents are opened on my side, and a Nimble Mongoose darts to my aide.  He has the Mongoose Net, Engineered Explosives at one, and I Counterspell it before it can ruin our joy.  After this, I merely protect my board and ride the Mongoose to the win.

People really have a hard time dealing with him.  When I ran BW Deadguy I felt like
Chainer's Edict was a huge part of my success as it dealt with Thresh's best creature.  I side out all three Force Spikes for the three Threads of Disloyalty in my side.

Game two is another, "Land, Duress your Brainstorm, Go," affair.  I play a Mongoose because he is like cheating without the icky feeling on my conscience.  He drops
Godless Shrine and Nantuko Shade, who, while a good man, is a creature I feel is highly over-rated.  I drop a Steam Vents, then Bolt his Shade.   Make that TRY to Bolt his Shade, as he FoWs my Bolt.  I attack, Ponder and pass the turn.  He hits me and drops Trinket Mage, fetching Sensei's Divining Top.  I don't really like that, but I'm not particularly worried by the sequence.  I draw and play Threads of Disloyalty on his Shade, and let him go.  His Mage attacks.  I take it.  He summons Robert Maher from Wisconsin.  I convince him to STAY in Wisconsin with the Force of my powerful Will.  My team begins its beatdown.  He is suddenly being out-raced.  He plays out Top, than Vampiric Tutor, dropping him from five life to three.  This is fine, as I'm one card from Threshold.  I send only his Shade, and he blocks with his Mage.  My Mongoose hits Thresh.  He tops, finds nothing, and I kill him.  Here's my biggest mistake of the tourney.  I really should have just scooped him in.  At 3-1, I'm gonig to be able to draw in next round, and I feel like I could ROLL him in the top eight.  Nothing is for sure, but I felt very good about my chances if I got him in.  I killed him instead, and then drew into the Top Eight, which is acceptable also.

In the first round of Top Eight, I am paired with Whiffy Penguin.  He is running UW Bomberman.  I don't know the match-up well.  I win the roll, and lead off with a land and doing some Pondering.  He drops land.  I drop land.  He has land.  I make a huge mistake, playing land and running Werebear into his Spell Snare.  I felt like I had to be the aggressor here, when in reality, I should have been the control role.  I FoW his Snare, but it was a bad idea.  He doesn't do anything on his turn.  I hit him with Bear.  He plays land, and I play land and hit him.  He tries
Thirst for Knowledge on his end-of-turn.  I play Force Spike on it.  He plays a morph (obvs Exalted Angel).  I Counterspell her.  He turns my Bear into a Plow-horse.  I have nothing.  He drops Trinket Mage and I FoW it.  Trinket Mage, I counter it.  Eventually he sticks both Auriok Salvagers and finds an Engineered Explosives, which wrecks my ability to stick men before he kills me.  That was frustrating.

I side in Pyroblasts for Force Spikes.  I decide to try being on the draw, since I feel like I should be the controlling player, never tapping too low for a threat other than Mongoose (Since I only need to defend him against EE).  I lead with Steam Vents.  He has Breeding Pool and a
Pyrite Spellbomb.  I drop Nimble Mongoose off of Breeding Pool.  He cycles his Spellbomb.  On his turn he plays Brainstorm and then finds his Steam Vents.  I attack him.  He trys to run Trinket Mage out.  I Pyroblast that sucker mid-stack.  I Ponder, getting the one card I wanted from the three, then play and crack a fetch.  My Mongoose plays, "Bite the Cobra's neck," with Whiffy again.

He does nothing on his fifth turn.  I attempt Brainstorm on his EoT, but he Pyroblasts that Blue spell.  I'm feeling my groove now.  Dropping a Mongoose and then sitting on him is just fun.  I try to add another to the board, but let it die to a Counterspell.  I hit him.  He plays
Auriok Salvagers.  I Counterspell those artifact-diddling weirdos, but he convinces them to join him through Force of Will.  I'm fine with that, as I reform them from their odd habits and talk to them about a life of farming.  I continue my Mongoose Bites.  He draws nothing and I kill him.

Game three he is on the play, and mulls to six.  Now, I make my same mistake as game one here.  I fall back into the belief that I should be the aggressor, forgetting that I'm up two cards already, and have plenty of cheap counterspells that can handle his more expensive cards.  We exchange lands our first two turns.  He drops a third lands on his third turn, and I Brainstorm at EoT.  I play a land and my Mongoose.  This was fine, but when he Counterspelled it, I fought back with Pyroblast.  I should have saved that for later, as I really didn't NEED my threat yet.  I could afford to sit back and drop another later.   And another.  Etc.  I have more threats, and more ways to deal with his threats, if I don't play poorly.

So, he untaps and drops Trinket Mage, fetching an Ancient Den.  I should have had the Pyroblast then.  I then compound my mistake by trying Tarmogoyf.  He FoWs.  I have no counters for it.  He drops a Morph (alarms are going off at this point, blaring, "Why did you counter that stupid Counterspell when you needed to save your mana for later!  Why did you tap so low for (Goyf) when you needed that counter and also a Counterspell amount of mana to shoot down his expensive threat!!!").  To make a long story short, I Ponder twice, crack a fetch, and draw three turns, never seeing a Swords to Plowshares, which was very frustrating.  However, Whiffy just played this better than I did.  I should have assumed the control role, because I have more counters and counters that he has a hard time with, plus better library manipulation.

The deck was very solid, and I can't complain about losing to it's creator, as he does know it a lot better than I do.  It treated me well, and one streak of bad luck brought on by my own mistake is nothing to whine about.  I honestly would not change a single card.  I felt like my SB was potent against the bad matchups out there, and that the MD was fine for what is out there now.  I MIGHT try sneaking a Tormod's Crypt or three in somewhere, but that's a small change.

Anyways, congrats to all who made Top 8.  Last, but certainly not least, I have an interview with Erik Lauer.  He's what he has to say about Tarmogoyf, Classic, and Money-Drafts.

I'm interviewing Ex-Pro and current MTG R&D guy Erik Lauer about the Classic format, and Magic in general. Erik is also a great guy. He has popped in the Classic PE before and given out results of the finished Top 8 when replays were off.

First off Erik, let's hear about your accomplishments. Before you worked for Wizards, you were busy getting paid by them. How many PT/GP Top 8s and are there any other accomplishments you ran up in your playing days?

I had a couple GP top 8's and 1 PT top 8. I was better at building decks than playing them. I made the Necro-deck when Randy won. I wasn't able to study and play on the PT at the same time, so I left the PT when Randy went to WotC.

What is your actual job at WotC?

I am a Magic developer. That means taking card designs, and improving them. It does not mean coding the cards for MTGO, though maybe some day I will try my hand at that.

What sets have you hand your hands in? What set and cards that you've designed are you particularly fond of?

I made a couple cards in Lorwyn, and quite a few in Morningtide. I am proud of Bitterblossom. It is straightforward, and fits in the tribal and class themes. I wanted it to hurt heavy control, be vulnerable to agression and burn, and possibly make people think about enchantment removal. I also made the 10E and Weatherlight Theme decks.

Do you remember any cards that seemed strong when they were printed that ended up being flops in Constructed?

Sure, there are tons of those. Serra Avenger looked great to some people, but didn't seem much play (especially in Standard).

What is YOUR vision of the Classic format? Do you feel it will eventually be Online Vintage (maybe minus only the Power 9 or something)?

I think the defining facet of the Classic format is the restricted list. It is supposed to have cards that would normally be considered "mistakes", as well as the cards that make Legacy Legacy.

Regarding Tarmogoyf: Best Creature Evar? Was it a mistake, or part of the shot in the arm that Green seemed to need? 

Tarmogoyf is really good, a bit better than expected. Is it the best creature? Disciple of the Vault is only 1 mana, I think that might be better. Best creature for 1G? Hermit Druid was also a big winner.

Any truth to the rumor that a 1W Whitogoyf is coming to give White an arm up?


White has Reveillark. Rumor has it that White will get a fantastic one mana creature this year.

Having a full "Uber-Account" (I assume), have you taken any Classic decks for a spin, either in the Casual or TP rooms?

Sure. In the Casual Rooms, Aaron and I took the Weatherlight theme decks for a spin. Cone of Flame FTW! In the Tournament rooms, I tried a few decklists I found online, and my take of a GB heavy discard Elf-Clamp deck I saw. The format is a natural in casual. As more cards are added, the tournament room should look less like extended.

Were you involved in the Future Sight Developement? If so, were the applications to Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba fully abused? Did you guys see this deck Dredge blowing up even more than previously across all formats?

I wasn't. I got here a bit late for that, though I did play against some Bridge from Below decks when I got here. Greater Gargadon was really popular, and that hurt Bridge a lot. Extended is a different situation because of Odyssey.

Looking back, if you weren't with WotC, do you think you'd still be PTing and GPing? Do you miss those days?

I stopped to finish my degrees. PTing was a great deal of fun, and I planned to return to it, but Randy had an offer.

If you were picking a team from the guys at WotC for a theoretical money-draft (Cuz no one illegally gambles of course), who would your first pick as a teammate be? I'm guessing Turian might be in consideration, as long as you opened his packs for him. Who's the probable other team's captain?

On the PT I played with Mike and Randy. Those are some awesome teamates, so I am sticking with them!

How often does MaRo yell, "Ken!" *clapclapclap* in a given day?

MaRo doesn't yell, he just talks super passionately and loudly!

I'm not sure you have much say in Banning and Restriction, but what cards would be on your watch-list for Classic, assuming you were the one in charge.
The last Classic card I had banned was Chains. I wrote to Elf and Worth, and I was thrilled to see how quickly the card was banned.I also a part of the group that considers changes for the three month updates. I think understanding what leads to cards being restricted is more helpful than a watch list. What I look for is a very imbalanced metagame. So far, I have seen different decks winning, including agro, control, and combo. It is hard for me to predict what is going to win. If it stagnates, then we have to look into what is causing the problem.
Settle an arguement. When playing Werebear, is quoting his flavor-text grounds for being pummeled? I say no. Of course, I say it every time I drop him.
LOL! I wonder if people outside the US get the reference...
Assuming you were to enter a Classic PE, what would you be packing?

I love Decree of Justice. Maybe it is too slow, but that wouldn't stop me from trying!

Can you give us any big cards to expect from the MED 2-4 series aside from the duals? Maybe just one?

Maybe I already gave you a hint...

With MaRo's recent article on getting people involved with Magic, it begs the question, how did you start playing?
I was at CMU, and friends were talking about the game. However the store was out, so I forgot about it. Later I got to play in a multi-player game. The store had a new shipment, called "Beta".
I see you in the TP room every now and again; what format do you prefer these days?

I try them all. A couple weeks ago I was playing UW Decree-Tron in Extended. I thought I had some tech playing two Oblivion Rings. I was happy to see someone had also made that discovery and made it to second at the GP. Right now, my favorite is Standard.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
This has been a lot of fun! I appreciate the great paticence you guy have had with the V2 system. I hope greater stability will be coming soon.


Thank you for your time, and for your visits to the MTGO messageboard, and in-game assistance.

I'm really grateful to Erik for his time and thoughts.  One-mana creature in White... fantastic... Mother of Runes maybe?  She's the only one I can think of that might be squeezed MED, but she's from Urza's, which doesn't really fit the requirements.  I'm guessing he meant a new card in one of the two new sets this year.  Other than that, it was interesting to see that he was trying out O-Ring a couple of weeks ago.  I feel like Bitterblossom is borderline perfect in its design, and maybe end up being slightly overpowered... but that's how I like it!  I hope you guys enjoyed this article, and please drop a line.  Have a good one!


Thanks everyone by walkerdog at Tue, 03/25/2008 - 18:33
walkerdog's picture

Thank you for the feedback guys.  outlaw, I know reports can be dry... I was hoping I kept it light enough to be readable.  Glad it pleased!  I'll be bugging WW soon about an MED preview or two.  Hopefully he is able to share some information with us!

med card hint by dillonkbase (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/25/2008 - 03:02
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my guess is necropotence its the only older card he really hinted at

by Outlaw1 at Tue, 03/25/2008 - 09:27
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Good Article. Sometimes these reports can be really dry but you managed to keep it light and inject some humor which I really liked. Keep up the good work!

by hamtastic at Tue, 03/25/2008 - 16:58
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Oooh... vague hints at possible MED cards... :)

Mother of Runes was the first 1cc White Creature I would think of, but again, it seems unlikely.  Unless that was a hint at a shadowmoor/eventide card and the MED mystery preview was actually Necro...

Interesting to think about what would happen to Classic with Necro in it...

More MED hints, please!!! :D

Nice article and walkthrough though. 

responce by whiffy penguin (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/24/2008 - 14:25
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in round 2 of the mirror i find it right to side out bolts and stifles for threads and pyros.bolt is a pretty dead card in the mirror as it doesnt kill anything on its own and the life from stp makes racing harder threads lets you play w/ more tarmogoyfs then they do and pyro is just awsome.

not gonna lie. you were on the wrong side of the fence when it came to picking roles. i generaly always wanna be on the reserve w/ that deck but its opening hands can effect it.also the match up which you didnt know to well and the fact that i can read your hand from experience gave me a little edge.

nice report  i almost wet myself on the exchange of bob and the force keeping him home  and grats on top 8